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Family Visits Suspended At All Prisons …As Correction Bureau Clarifies US 2019 Human Rights Report

The Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) says its attention has been drawn to the United States 2019 Human Rights Report inclusive of the Prison Fellowship Liberia Report regarding the conditions of prison facilities in the country.
Acknowledging receipt of the recent US Human Rights Report, the BCR leadership said there were several issues that were taken out of context which include the over-crowdedness of prisons, lack of food and delay in holding pre-trial detainees conference, preventing family members from seeing inmates even when they are sick, among others.
The BCR explained that the report stated that the overcrowding in Block ‘D’ at the Monrovia Central Prison required prisoners to sleep in shifts but in terming the allegation as absurd, the Bureau said this is not the fact because even though the leadership is challenged by this over-crowdedness, it pointed out, “At no time the prisoners ever slept in shifts.”
The BCR said they are working with partners to address the issues of over-crowdedness and because of this there, are pre-trial conferences through the magistrate program and has always enforce a classification program that separate trials for pre-trial detainees .
The Director of Prisons, Edwin Philip McGill, said as for the food for inmates, there could be challenges because of the slow pace at which the finances are given as well as the road conditions thereby causing delays but there have been no time the prison facility had gone without food for three weeks.
The BCR said there have been instances designated next of care case cannot be reached and sometimes they do not even show up therefore the Bureau has to take the initiative by providing cell phones for prison to contact their lawyers and family members in critical cases.
The Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) has temporarily suspended with immediate effect all family visits to prisons in the interest of public safety and prison security nationwide during this period of the coronavirus.
The BCR has advised all heads of prison facilities to follow the prescribed preventive measures until otherwise instructed which include the setting up of a system to take delivery of food and essential items brought by inmates’ relatives and humanitarian groups, with respect to maintaining prescribed social distancing.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, Mr. McGill urged all security at the prisons to conduct temperature checks on all persons, including attorneys before granting them access to the facilities; as well as ensuring that the facilities are well ventilated and exercise activities for all offenders, including juveniles thereby ensuring that all persons entering prison facilities wash their hands properly before granting them access.
Among the measures, they are to ensure that at least three hand-washing stations are set up in each prison facility for inmates, prison staff and other authorized persons to wash their hands at least three times daily (during morning, afternoon and evening hours);
The prison staffers are to also ensure that all newly admitted offenders are medically screened and isolated from the general inmate population for an observation period of 14 days after which they can be placed in their appropriate cells; ensure that all offenders who are found to be symptomatic are immediately referred to the legally designated government agency for medical care and ensure that all officers responsible for admissions and direct interactions with the public and newly admitted inmates are wearing protective equipment, including masks (covering mouth and nose).

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